Neil Redfearn said the door was opening for Luke Murphy again after the forgotten midfielder’s convincing performance in Leeds United’s FA Cup defeat at Sunderland.
United’s head coach handed Murphy his first start for almost three months yesterday and said further chances could come his way on the back of his display at the Stadium of Light.
Murphy was named in a heavily-changed line-up, one of seven alterations made by Redfearn, and the 25-year-old shone in the second half as Leeds fought in vain to avert a 1-0 third-round loss.
The midfielder cost Leeds £1million when they signed him from Crewe Alexandra in 2013 but he has been surplus to requirements for much of this season and United were ready to release him on loan during the last emergency window.
The club planned to listen to offers for him this month and might yet allow him to move on from Elland Road but asked if Murphy could have a future at the club, Redfearn said: “I don’t see why not.
“If you play well, you get in. That’s got to be the message. We’re not in a position where we can turn people down when they play well.
“We want players who are playing well.
“Players need to know they’ve got to compete for the shirt and you have to remember that we’ve had Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook doing well in midfield. It’s unlucky that some of the seniors have found themselves out of the picture.
“But I have to say that their attitude in training while they’ve been out has been exemplary. You can see that from the way they came in and performed here.”
Rodolph Austin also started in midfield yesterday, at the end of a week in which he was heavily linked with a January move out of Leeds.
Brighton have expressed an interest in the Jamaican and Millwall are also keen on him with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.
Leeds, who have not made Austin an offer to renew his deal, look set to sanction his departure if they succeed in signing Slovenian midfielder Rene Krhin on loan from Inter Milan.
Redfearn, who also gave full debuts to Italian centre-back Dario Del Fabro and Paraguayan striker Brian Montenegro at Sunderland, said: “Austin and Murphy bossed it in midfield. I thought Sunderland struggled in the second half.
“The good thing is we’ve opened it up again. There’s clear light of day. If you fight for a place then there’s competition for places here.”
Leeds remain in talks with Inter about the signing of Krhin and hope to finalise the arrival of striker Leonardo Pavoletti from Sassuolo this week.
The club also remain interested in Andrey Galabinov, a Bulgarian forward who plays with Livorno in Italy’s Serie B.
Redfearn’s side lie 20th in the Championship after five league games without a win but the 49-year-old is hopeful that new players will arrive before United’s fixture at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, saying: “I’d like to think so. We need two or three new signings.
“We need to strengthen the squad and I said that a month or six weeks ago.
“These players need some help so hopefully we’ll bring in the right type of players who’ll make the difference,” said the United boss.